Jumping on the Trumpoline

3059How exactly do we define this new era we are in? Certainly it is without a doubt that we are traversing the ruins of the American century and our new dear leader who dwells in his ivory tower surfs on a crest of ignorance along with his brave new regime. We’ve entered a dimension of Alternate Facts wherein a White House Press secretary refuses to believe his eyes or disagrees that the American people should believe their eyes. Kellyanne Conway as a senior adviser to this great leader promotes this notion of alternate facts as an administration policy.
This isn’t really new is it? This is an atavistic belch of the worst variety of Romanticism where feelings and personal truths matter more than objectivity and the real world. Poland was objectively a sovereign state in 1939 but the Nazi regime possessed the alternate fact of liebensraum. Jews, Natives and Blacks are objectively human beings with thoughts, emotions and potential on par with any other invented ethnicity and yet throughout history we’ve had the alternate facts that they are subhuman, refuse, or simple organic tools.
Certainly its very easy and cliche to liken the current scenario with the atrocities of Nazi Germany, Godwin’s Law is all too amusingly accurate, but we must remember that the Liberal Democratic World order for all its pros and cons since the end of the second world war has been headed and steered by a succession of administrations in the United States of America. In effect this world order has been a response and repudiation of the excesses and inhumanity of the regimes that caused ridiculous amounts of damage and death tolls that continue to breed shudders of horror in anyone who learns of them. And here we are with the heir of this world order who appears in all respects to repudiate this post war stance in favor of populism, racism and isolationism.
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America has always been the imperfect beacon of liberty and its stewardship of the world has gone severely cock eyed many times. As it enters into its formal preparations of suicide we all watch with weary hearts and shocked eyes knowing that its still too big and still too powerful to not blow up without collateral damage. We all wait watching to see how crazy this will get. This is truly the biggest test to American democracy in its entire history, the protest candidate. People of all stripes were fed up with the system and the long running string of Administrations which just kept the ball rolling no matter who it rolled over. Hillary Clinton was a shit candidate because she was the pinnacle of this succession of neo-liberal status quo maintainers. Donald Trump was also a shit candidate because he is a reprehensible human being, and despite the fact that his platform is running on the worst that our species is capable of he won because he wasn’t the same old garbage. If you live in garbage your whole life you welcome its replacement even if its still just garbage just because its new. So if this really does get as crazy as we all fear will the American system with its checks and balances be able to counteract it? This is the test.

Plans

napoleon_delaroche_1845I admit with some disappointment that my attention to this blog has become rather sluggish of late but soon such circumstances will be rectified. Certain matters of the organism have taken my attentions elsewhere but a renewed focus has returned to me and the mouse has not been idle while the cat was away.

First and foremost I declare the intent outright that I will be relaunching my long slumbering Youtube channel with a greater focus and engagement on my part. One has to accept that social media is an inherently narcissistic medium and so my stance of anonymity towards it will have to be relaxed if something of worth is to come of it. And by worth I do not mean monetarily for I care little for gaining advertisement revenue and such. More so I seek to develop it as a vehicle for engagement and promotion of my own literary efforts and other such pursuits. How this will manifest itself you, dear devoted and heretofore hypothetical reader, will have to wait and see.

I’ve been reading lots of book (the lack of plurality on that word indicating that instead of reading many average sized books I am reading a handful of above average sized books) and they have infused great thoughts and reflections within me; such that I will convey in future posts.

Also, on the hobbies front, I’ve been working semi-diligently on my various miniature creations which will also be featured heavily on my soon to be Youtube channel. When things are at a state of acceptability I will relay photos and such on here of the latest developments of my Kings of War, Black Powder, D.B.A etc armies. Black Powder in particular i’m excited for.

This shall have to do as an update for the time being. Until next time. Namaste

All Lives Matter and the Depraved Bigoted Parasite that Lives Inside You

Perhaps you’ve been tempted these past months, I mean it seems so simple, magnanimous and attractive, to spout the phrase All lives matter in response to the current turmoils effecting our society. Let me be the first to congratulate and pat you on the back for being an ardent defender of the Ancien Régime. For is that not what it is, this All Lives Matter; an atavistic belch of anti-civil rights? Your confused I’m sure. The struggle was a long time ago was it not? And weren’t laws passed which made all the racist things white people were doing illegal? By golly there’s even a negro president. Surely the race problem has been put to pasture in the face of all this. And yet here we are. There are dead bodies in the streets and protests galore. Police are playing fast and loose with the law and our rights all the while eliciting our sympathies for their own injuries. So something is obviously astray. Granted much of these turmoils are Made in America so to speak but like those curious sucker fish which attach themselves to sharks and share in the larger creature’s meal we too in Canada and elsewhere consume the crumbs of the American Orgy and thus ours does not go untainted by the American Way.
It behooves me to inform you my white colleagues in the human race that you have a problem and it lies inside you. Slavery was bad. No kidding, it was really bad but it isn’t insurmountable. There have been many a slave society throughout history and upon the absolution of the institution in said societies things were able to relatively conform to the new status-quo and on with business everyone went. The problem with the slavery system unique to colonial European powers is the racial element entwined with it (and indeed was largely invented to compliment it). Once the shackles and manacles came off, black people still wore the insoluble brand; dark skin and along with it the very entrenched and long lived ideology of race. Everywhere they went they wore it and everybody who looked upon them saw all the associations of inferiority and inhumanity which had been perpetuated for the past few hundred years. For that disgraceful and all too long period of time black people in the Americas were denied agency, education, compensation and dignity. The travesty which puts the icing on that despicable cake has been every year since the emancipation proclamation, wherein large swathes of white society made it their agenda to continue to deny black people agency, education, compensation and dignity regardless of what the law said. Whites of various strata stood to lose from black emancipation. Slave owning whites lost potential money and poor whites lost the distinction that no matter how miserable their position in society was they had the comfort of being able to say, “at least I’m no slave!’. Even the North who opposed slavery during the civil war can’t be said to have done so purely from moral feeling. Slavery was a roadblock to economic progress. The Capitalist mode of production was in full swing in the North and slavery posed an obstacle to growth and expansion. Class and hierarchy are pesky elements to every society and are very potent. The institution of black enslavement may have ended but its sister institution of racism has still been firing on all cylinders because for some there is still great profit in keeping blacks in the impoverished lower rungs of the social ladder as there is always in every society profit for one strata of people to keep another under heel.
No amount of legislation can do away with attitudes and paradigms that have been cultivated over hundreds of years. And regardless of how liberal and superior we may feel in regards to history we must be aware that our contemporary world is still betrayed by that very same history. After the end of slavery a new order was established for Blacks in the Americas and even though slavery was gone it was still a stark reflection of the old one. Black mobility was curtailed or denied to certain neighborhoods and occupations; reflecting the confinement on plantations and specific labours considered “suited to them” denying opportunity for upward advancement on the social ladder. Blacks were only given access to sub par education wherein their failure was the expected outcome and thus little energy was put into that education which reflects the former situation where slaves were not granted exposure to any knowledge outside of the bare minimum to complete their labours and where the punishments could be severe if a slave was caught learning to read or write. It is this little tidbit which betrays the whole racial ideology held by slave owning whites as its implication is that instead of leaving their slaves to their own devices and not caring about their intellectual pursuits simply because the belief was that they were incapable of having any but the fact is that they feared intelligence in a slave because ignorance is the first and most important stranglehold of any form of bondage. It is plain that they didn’t want introspection and intelligence in their slaves because they did not want them to come to know the nature of their condition and the capacity to plan against it. Whether this is the explicit intent of contemporary education systems or not, the low expectation of black intelligence and/or prevention of black intelligence is inherent to the system itself because the end of slavery only demolished a particular institution within a system it did not destroy that system and create a new one.
Another peculiar aspect of slavery is the enforced fragmentation of the black family unit. On the surface a plantation owner may put on organized festivities and bless the marriage between two slaves but at any given time and was quite often done, a family unit within the slave community could be separated and sold in part or wholesale. This reflects certain aspects of European political philosophy wherein the family unit is considered the initial kernel of social order and hierarchy whereupon aggregations of family units become villages and then towns, cities and so on into nation states. An individual draws strength from hers or his family unit and is empowered by the potential legacy and character of that family unit. Lineage and heritage are a potent force in forging personality and strength of will; national patriotism is the expanded form of family pride. There is great strength and capacity for leaps of faith based upon love and loyalty to the family. By separating black families before they can acquire a mythology of sorts concerning its lineage/heritage a slave ever remains a lone individual within an environment of other lone individuals underneath a dominating hierarchy of white overseers. This systematic and targeted degradation of black families had devastating and long lasting impacts from the end of slavery unto our own time wherein the same basic principle is in effect via different mechanisms. The principle instrument of family destruction is through the various arms of the justice system wherein poor blacks are targeted for largely petty offenses which are virtually unavoidable in a living situation where the basics of dignified living are not a given but have to be fought for. Even with the substantial power of the systemic forces in play it is not simply possible for it to separate and incarcerate members of the black community at will and so justifications must be in play to lubricate the surface image of the oppression.
Just as an internal familial mythology can be empowering to an individual, a mythology focused on the supposed character of black men and black women can be disenfranchising to a whole people. Stereotyping is a broad phenomenon with effects ranging from the benign to the worrisome but the extensive messaging by white dominated forms of media for the past 150+ years have been drilling home a very specific and well defined agenda of characteristics applied to black men and black women. Any person can easily attest to this by simply sitting down and making a list of stereotypes associated with black people and a separate list for white people and there will no doubt be a significant quantitative difference between the lists in favor of (or more precisely not in favor of) black people. Most often this list contains: prone to violence, uneducated (it used to be ignorant but terminology morphs with the times. Uneducated has a connotation that the person either has not received or refused knowledge), lazy (quite contrary to the historical fact of slavery where vast portions of socially necessary labour was performed by slaves and the fact that poor people or working class people generally work considerably harder than their more affluent counterparts for less value), unfaithful (generally assigned to black men) angry (black men and women) and so on. When it does come time to offer up potentially positive characteristics for black people they usually fall under the benign categories of culture such as dancing, singing and so on. And quite often positive stereotypes are offered to black individuals such as articulate or well spoken which often have the implication of surprise at being above expectation.
And so here we are. Some things have changed and yet some things have remained the same or just put on new clothing. You can do away with slavery and colonialism as de jure entities in the world but certain de facto imprints of those phenomena take considerable time to get wrinkled out. There is still a struggle to be had and to deny that is to deny all of human history. We know this is real. After how many thousands of years are we still dealing with antisemitism and for what exactly? There isn’t a reason. After half the world adopts a religion based around the teachings and deeds of a Jewish man from Bethlehem there is still significant amounts of mistrust and hatred towards those people. Will we have to endure a thousand more years of anti-black prejudice? How long will we continue to accept these currents of ignorance within our society and our own selves? Nobody needs a reminder that All Lives Matter, such sentiments are basic and are better left to the mouths of children. Black Lives Matter is a protest movement in response to challenges which effect the black community specifically, and which have gone on far too long. Such challenges are not mythical, they are well documented. If your response to Black Lives Matter is a crinkled face and utterances of All Lives Matter then you need to check yourself. Such sentiments come from a place of insecurity about your place and the place of others in society. Your reaction is akin to those deranged animals who spit in the faces of black children as they marched up the steps of newly desegregated schools, only yours comes from a place of ignorance far more insidious. There is a deranged bigoted parasite feeding upon your soul. There is a treatment but it takes effort. How lazy do you intend to be?
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Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-release

Last weekend I attended my first Magic The Gathering Prerelease Event, prompted as i was by an invitation from my cousin; a long time dedicated wizard of the card game variety. I had shyly flirted with the whole Magic the Gathering phenomenon for the past few years after finding an unopened booster pack stuffed in the seat of a used car belonging to my niece. Opening that pack and seeing those old cards (it was a homelands pack) brought back memories of my own modest collection I had in the 3rd grade. I never played it back in those younger years and only coveted the cards for their artwork and sort of casually marvelling at the mysteries written on the cards trying to decipher (unsuccessfully) what they meant. That one pack of Magic cards was enough to set a bug loose in me and i went about learning the game (mostly through the Duels of the Planeswalkers digital games) and accumulating a large collection of cards in a very short period of time. The phrase ‘Cardboard Crack’ is very accurate. A number of years past with my collection growing until I sold it and then starting a new one, all the while never once playing the game against a real live person sitting across from me.

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The Shadows over Innistrad 

So I went into this pre-release experience with an open mind, a degree of excited anticipation and a pinch of nervousness. The card store hosting the event was a nice enough place, the owner friendly and approachable but for the most part I hung in the shadows listening until the event finally occurred, playing a few practice games with some complementary intro decks of which I lost each time. When the time finally came we were given a pre-release pack containing a spin-down die, six booster packs and a dated promotional card. Instead of analysing my cards to any degree like most of those around me were doing I decided outright I would make a blue-white deck as those are my preferred colours. I didn’t devise any specific strategy other than including as many flyers as I could and a couple cards I noticed that went well together. In the end I was matched up with my cousin the first round and shockingly beat him the first and third time thus winning the round. My deck was actually pretty decent it seemed and I knew enough to actually make use of it. His deck was also strong but took time to get into gear which seemed to make it vulnerable to my quick and cheap flyers. For the second round I was matched up with a middle aged portly fellow who seemed perturbed that he was playing against a newbie. Overall the vibe he was giving off just unsettled me to the point i was making all sorts of silly mistakes and forgetting things that were very basic. He patiently corrected me when I did forget something but at the same time you could sense the consternation in his demeanour. Overall I simply felt bewildered playing against him and lost the first two games and thus the round although the second game was close with us both down to 3 or less life and in the end it was my attack that brought him down to 1 life that killed me as he had a card in play which made me suffer whenever i attacked. For the third round I was matched up with a young and what I perceived to be a casual player; someone who enjoyed the game but didn’t take it too terribly seriously and we had two very enjoyable games where we played at a relaxed pace and getting along quite friendly like. He won the first game and after a very long second game I won but by then we were out of time and were thus tied for the round. Instead of us each getting nothing we decided to have me claim the round and thus given a prize of three booster packs that we would split. I opened the first one and ended up getting mythic rare Avaycn card. I was happy enough with this so I let him have the other two packs. He ended up fairing just as well, pulling a Sorin planeswalker.

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My first Pre-release deck

All in all it was an interesting experience. It was nice spending time with my cousin who before now I had not really interacted with socially in our adulthood. I enjoyed making my deck and playing against my third opponent (and my cousin of course) though I must admit I didn’t feel at home with the crowd at large. It seemed to me that many of those gathered there had taken up this card game at the expense of everything else in life. Between the varying levels of obesity and alarming lack of hygiene exhibited by many of the players I was taken aback. I feel ashamed leaving the house wearing pyjama pants but there was at least one man there wearing a robe. A modicum of vanity when it comes to appearance is a healthy thing and there I perceived very little of it. It isn’t my aim to be judgemental of course as I wouldn’t swear of doing it again for those reasons but it is a shame when I discover a people who live up to negative stereotypes ass cracks and all.

Initial Thoughts on Batman V Superman

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I just came from an early screening of Batman v. Superman and my mind is deluged with frustrated observations. I went into the theatres with the honest desire of liking the movie even with the reservations I had after watching Man of Steel. It seems as though I’m in a contract of sorts (if only one of the honour system) to not disclose any plot details of the movie which I don’t intend to do. Not to say that there aren’t problems with the plot, which there are plenty, but the execution of the film is its principle failing.

Let me just say this up front: Movie studio executives please stop giving Zack Snyder a job. He showed a bit of promise with 300 and Watchmen (I haven’t seen his first movie) but with each effort since he’s descending into disjointed bedlam, crude scratchings of a person suffering from severe attention deficit disorder. What is it with movie studios hiring these music video directors to tackle major intellectual properties? Aside from David Fincher you don’t get much quality from directors with that background. Especially with Zack Snyder you see too much of the tainted influence of music video directing.

dc747396159643e13b3e3f84eea1a22eYou go into this movie from one disjointed scene to the next with this distinct sensation of expectation that this story is going to find itself, that it will know where its going but after the hour mark you realize that this paroxysm of fulfilment is not going to take place. The director keeps adding one unrelated and superfluous scene after another, adding bulk to a movie which boiled down to its core could have easily fit in the 1h30m mark. This is a saddening experience since the material being worked with is quite rich. The whole topic of Superman as a god-like figure is brought up repeatedly and is in a way a central undertone of the movie but its handled so clumsily that it just feels contrived and repetitive; not saying anything worth hearing. There is great potential for fantastic visuals. You could have had a scholar of renaissance religious artwork direct this movie and not only would the story be better told because frankly it couldn’t be worse but the visuals would have been beautiful. Modern super heroes and their trials are basically the angels, saints and demons of a past age and if depicted with this sense aesthetics it could be magical but instead we get the rapid shot CGI trash which only looks good if your not paying attention. The bat mobile is featured quite prominently for parts of the film but I can’t for the life of me tell you what it looks like because its only ever a black blob flying through heaps of explosions, rubble and twisted metal.

The whole conflict between Batman and Superman is built up sloppily over the course of two hours and you are against the odds still pumped for the expected showdown but the entire struggle is diffused in an unnatural and forced moment that you feel like the pilot of a rocket ship whose lost thrust before leaving the Earth’s atmosphere and has to endure the dismal plummet back to earth and to ruin. The actual bona fide confrontation with a villain in the movie, when it does come is hackneyed and disappointing: Just enough excuse for the disaster porn that Man of Steel was so rife with that this movie is sort of an answer to but never learns its own lesson.

This movie never feels sure of itself and feels desperate throughout: weird dream sequences, unnecessary plot lines, bad overacting (Jesse Eisenberg), Louis Lane just running around being generally stupid, the contrived inclusion of other DC characters and so on. You don’t come away feeling like the movie has a heart let alone a soul. Another thing this movie suffers from is that its entirely humourless. The only slightly amusing quips between characters come in the last 20 minutes and they aren’t exactly humdingers but by then your just wanting it to end. Although it drags it out as much as possible it does finally end, thank god.

In the end the only highlight I can really point to is Ben Afleck. He delivered a pretty good performance of Bruce Wayne/batman but its all for nought since the rest of the movie is a flaming heap of congealed schizophrenia. Its funny that there was so much outcry over his casting when there should have been way more over the choice of director. If DC wants to compete with the Marvel cinematic powerhouse it needs to go back to the drawing board.

 

The Thing

Winter has come. In these cold times I am reminded of a sort of tradition sprung in days of yore. Every so often I get on a trend of watching horror films. My taste in that genre is pretty specific. I find most horror films to be shameless garbage but as with anything there are gems in the mounds of manure. For me horror goes very well with a science fiction setting. The Alien films, in particular the first two, epitomize what can be genuinely terrifying on film. The darkness, the cramped environments and the pervasive atmosphere of the unknown mix so well in those movies. Another film which is one of my absolute favourites is The Thing by John Carpenter (I never seen the remake/reboot which the very idea of is offensive. I see no reason why Hollywood feels the need to make remakes of movies which are fantastic the first time. Oh wait; Money). Now, The Thing isn’t scary in a visceral sense like Alien although it has its moments; the creature effects are quite gruesome and brilliant as horrifying visuals. The horror of the thing comes from the paranoia it produces, in that the characters don’t know which among them is actually a vile shape shifting alien. This other is nowhere and yet everywhere through the fear of the characters and the unknown. On top of that there is the threat of the environment itself, where the story takes place. One will die if out in the elements for two long and here it has another thing in common with Alien as the environment is space which is anything but conducive to supporting life.

Anyways the best aspect of The Thing is its overall vibe, which like any other good John Carpenter film (and I recognize that some are stinkers) it puts you in an enjoyable place when you watch it. Going back to the aforementioned tradition, often I would watch the movie alone with all the lights off while drinking a nice glass (or a few) of scotch: J&B preferably for the sake of theme. If you’ve seen the movie you’d know why that would be fitting. The burn from the alcohol somehow just seemed to amplify the sense of coldness in the film (it takes place in Antarctica) and by the time I was near the climax of the film I was quite likely drunk which in all honesty can really increase the enjoyment of a movie. Case in point: I’ve watched The Return of the King while heavily intoxicated and at the end when Aragorn says to the hobbits, “You bow to no one,” I wept like a child on the first day of school.

I’m not sure I have a point with all of this except that with the weather being what it is these days and the paranoia one can feel that the lizard men are making a big move (I.E. Donald Trump), I feel like sitting down with a bottle of scotch and watching The Thing. If you happen to have access to the film and a bottle of whisky I highly recommend it.

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An Ocean on a Hill

Less than an hours walk outside the village of Dill there is a lone stone tower in a small copse of old maples. The tower is younger than the trees but double in height. The architecture of it is simplistic though eccentric in an understated way. From afar the tower looks to be slanted in one particular direction before correcting itself halfway up its height. Up close it looks quite straight and its only features of note are its tiny eyebrow windows and its peaked roof of wood shingles. The door to the tower is closed, its bottom portion and lintel above it coated in heavy soot as though a fire raged inside not long ago. There is no indication that the tower is burning now however even though the resident of the place, a certain wizard named Rizak, is sitting on a small wooden barrel several feet from the threshold, a refugee from his own home. He wears a long ultramarine robe, heavily scorched and torn with rather foppish frilly white cuffs at the ends of his sleeves. Over this he wears a simple iron breastplate with matching vambraces, both heavily dented and burned. Rizak is a man in his early thirties, vibrant in body and mind with long and thick tousled black hair on his head with a more conservative compliment on his face. On the ground beside him are wooden crates of various sizes and baskets containing glass bottles filled with potions and powders. Directly under his feet is a small wooden chest with ornate metalwork and a lock. Idle he sits, picking at the skin on his hands, looking anxious and bored. He does not seem to notice or be concerned about the tiny creature a few feet in front of him dancing with pronounced silent joy. The grey skinned creature is an imp not even a foot tall with long lizard like tail and a head consisting mostly of a mouth filled with long sharp teeth and two beady black eyes. The creature bares its teeth not in any menacing way but in an ecstatic smile which combined with its dancing brought to mind the antics of a court jester.

At this moment a group of three men and a women enter the copse through the dirt path and stand facing the tower with their eyes glued to the dancing imp. These individuals are a motley sort, culled from the sundry denizens of the village below. Although no claim of nobility could be had from any corner of Dill, a village whose chief export is pickles, this group of people in particular are of dull caste. Foremost is the woodcutter Hangmar, a burly sort with a head and beard of woolly blond hair. He wears no shirt, exposing his massive barrel chest and muscular arms which grip a heavy headed axe in their hands. Just behind Hangmar to his right is Grilly the midwife, a woman of only slightly less bulk than Hangmar. Her hair is dark and kept in a dishevelled bun. She wears a long tunic and ankle length breeches both made of the same course brown fabric which looks like it would itch. Around her neck is a neck cask about the size of a large potato. Grilly may have been three sheets to the wind most of the time but that didn’t stop her from bringing damn near every villager of Dill under the age of 30 from their mothers wombs into their arms. She knew her business as much as she knows her wines and spirits, that is to say quite a lot. To her right there is the hunter named Seems, a mysterious skinny fellow who only comes to town every other week to sell furs and other products from his hunts. All of his clothing, from jacket down to his trousers is made from leather prepared and stitched by his own hand. On his back he carries a crossbow and a small pack and several smaller pouches line his belt. To the left of these three is the young teen named Gendy who stood at an awkward distance from the rest. The boy is quite thin with long back hair tied behind his neck with the embarrassing beginnings of a moustache dabbling above his lips. His black tunic and trousers fit snug on his body as if they were passed down or his wardrobe hadn’t been updated in many moons. A thin leather belt wraps around his waist and on it a small dagger rests in a sheath.

Rizak pounced onto his feet upon seeing the arrival of the group and rushed forward to greet them. “Wonderful! Wonderful! You’ve done well young man. These three look stout and determined. Just the sort I need for this task.”

The three of them barely acknowledged Rizak as the dancing imp was simply too much too ignore.

“Oh dont mind the imp! That’s just Winkle, an old friend, completely harmless. I summoned him from one of the lesser planes when I was a young teen just learning my way around a spell book.

Hangmar steps forward and addresses Rizak, “This lad,” pointing at Gendy with the axe, “came into the Briny Stein telling of a wizard in the hills needing aid. Now I’m not much inclined to approach magic of any sort. Folks around here tell their children to stay away from these hills, rife with queer hermits as they are and the warnings are with good reason I reckon.”

“Aye,” says Seems in agreement.

“All for the better my good friends,” replies Rizak cheerfully. “A little bit of local superstition and fear is conducive to those who enjoy our privacy. There is nothing to fear at any rate I assure you though that is not to say that challenges and the potential for harm aren’t in the cards if you decide to help me.”

“And just what is it ye be needing assistance with?” Grilly asks.

“It’s quite simple. My home is suffering a bit of an infestation of sorts of which I am not able to address. My expertise in creature management is regrettably not as up to par with my skills in summoning.”

“Just what sort of creatures are we talking here,” Seems asks with the others nodding.

“Nothing too exotic… I opened a portal that entered onto a maritime region, albeit of an alien variety. The strange bird was one thing. That by itself I could have handled in time but the curious and most troublesome thing was that I couldn’t close the portal as I had opened it. It is as if there is a party or mechanism on the other side which is maintaining it for reasons unknown. A small horde of rather devilish crab-esque creatures poured through into my bedroom pinching at everything they could get their claws on including me.

“Ooh I love crab,” Grilly says

“They have delicious meat,” Seems concurs.

“They were quite vicious! Though they aren’t too much to handle even with their thick shells. A good whack with a club or a well aimed fireball will deal with them nicely. By all means make a feast of them once this is all settled. I must of killed fifty of the things before they stopped coming through and that’s when I tried unsuccessfully to close the portal. At that point I developed a notion that the lunatic bird flying around knocking things over was acting as an anchor for the other side. If I could return it back to the world from whence it came then maybe I could then close the portal.”

“Let me guess,” Hangmar says, “The bird got away?”

“You might say that. I was very close to apprehending it with a containment ward when I tripped and knocked into one of my shelves. A flask containing a potent hypnotic solution shattered and I was immediately put to sleep. I awoke to find my tower filled with creatures of numerous variety disturbing things and being very belligerent. I attempted dispatching them all but my energy waned in a way their numbers didn’t. I cut a path through the tower collecting what valuables as i could. Once I exited I sealed it with a strong warding spell so as to keep the intruders locked in. And now I look to you as my saviours.”

The three of them exchanged glances with each other as if conveying with their eyes their reservations about this dubious sounding quest.

“Crabs and a bird?” Seems says. “All you need is for us to clear your tower of crabs and an odd bird?”

“Yes to put it broadly. There is simply too many for me to handle on my own. Clear the tower of its infestation and eliminate whatever factor on the other side of the portal that is keeping it open.”

“Now wait a minute. You be wanting us to go through magic portals?” Hangmar says with scrunched face. “That’s wizards work. Its not our place to step into other worlds.”

“I don’t disagree with you. Hangmar is it? But I assure you that it is a simple matter. Just on the other side of the portal there will be an apparatus which is maintaining it on that side. One need only disturb it slightly and it will no longer be a burden to the effort of closing it entirely on this side.”

“How do you know its not some monstrous other world wizard that’s keeping it open on the other side?”

“Because I seen the apparatus myself. My theory considering the bird as an anchor was incorrect. I discovered that upon awakening. I awoke on the other side of the portal on a beach quite near the apparatus mentioned. I would have taken care of it then but I was in immediate danger from certain creatures and had to flee.”

More than one eyebrow became cocked by the wizards explanations and by now the collective mind had been made concerning this matter. It was Grilly who in the end stepped forward and voiced it.

“Its a shame about your home to be sure and it certainly is in the nature of the people of Dill to lend a helping hand when someone is in need but your problem extends far beyond helping someone roll a barrel of pickles down the road. I think I can speak for each man here that we aren’t inclined to risk life and limb for such a strange predicament as yours. I suggest you find help farther a field for this sort of thing.”

Hangmar and Seems nodded in agreement and turned to leave. As the wizard told his tale of woe Gendy listened with awe filled glee. Never before had he heard such a tale spun in a practical sort of way, one in which fantastical creatures and circumstances were not just the tools of horror stories told to children but were bonafide real concerns. Where the others stepped back he chose to step forward.

“I’ll help you Rizak!” he says with bold confidence.

Hangmar turned back as he was about to pass the first tree on the path and guffawed. “Don’t throw your life away on a fools errand boy. Your too young for such dangers and that knife of yours could barely butter toast let alone slay a mad crab!”

Gendy looked downward at the dagger on his belt feeling much less confident.

“Fear not my brave man,” Rizak says gripping Gendy by the shoulders. “I can equip you with a better weapon than that and a bit of defensive protection too if you’d like. You see all these crates here on the yard? Well though most contain potions and alchemical equipment others contain weapons and armour as I figured they might be needed even as I was escaping. And you’ll also have the pleasure of collecting the full reward upon your success.”

Rizak points back at the small chest and a spatial warping bolt of energy flies from his finger tip opening the chest for all to see. The chest is filled to the brim with large gold coins the likes of which nobody in all of Dill is ever like to see in their lifetime. The three ex-volunteers rushed back from the path to look upon the shining contents before another bolt from Rizaks finger closed the lid shut with a loud snap and the lock could be heard engaging.

“That’s serious coinage,” Hangmar says.

“Your too right Mr. Woodcutter. Split evenly among yourselves you’d each have enough to purchase the entire village and surrounding lands and institute your own barony if you were so inclined. My needs are real and pressing as is my reward.”

The three of them no longer looked at each other to commune in decision but each set about preparation by their self centered volition. Hangmar took a stone from his pocket and began sharpening his axe, Seems takes the crossbow from his back and starts to cock the string. Grilly approaches a smiling Rizak and says, “whats this about weapons?”

By the time everyone was ready and facing the door of the tower Grilly holds a massive two handed mace and well liquored from longs swigs from her cask. Young Gendy has been outfitted with a small wooden shield and a short sword. Hangmar and Seems are both at the ready with the equipment they came with although Seems took a few of Rizaks potions which he said might come in handy.

“Aren’t you coming wizard?” Hangmar bellows over his shoulder.

“I think the lot of you will prove more than competent for the task. I am still weak from my ordeal and besides someone has to remain out here to guard your reward and these other valuables which might prove dangerous in the wrong hands.”

“If you say so,” Hangmar says. “We are ready.”

“Wonderful.”

Rizak waves his hands to and fro forming intricate designs in the air focused on the door. The metal braces on the door glow a light blue before dissipating and the locking mechanism of the door can be heard to adjust. Hangmar uses the butt of his axe to push the door inward and the four of them rush inside screaming triumphant war cries. The door closes behind them and Rizak takes a seat on the barrel as before clapping as his pet imp dances and flips with that magnanimous smile.

©2016 P.E.W Peter Bardo

 

 

Serialized Fantasy

I’ve decided that I’m going to post a serialized fantasy short story in the style of an old-school dungeon crawl adventure. I’ve become very enamoured with fantasy and the whole RPG world, and even though I don’t have a gaming group currently in which I can play these kinds of games I still enjoy becoming versed in the craft of story telling as it relates to this medium. In particular I’m attracted to the Dungeon Master/Game Master/Judge aspect of the game or in other words the story teller. To that end I’ve been thinking up my own adventures and writing the stories out that will be the narrative tunnel through which player characters will traverse. This is how the story which I will be sharing imminently started. It was an idea for one of these adventure quests which I decided to flesh out into a full blown story. I will upload the successive parts of the story once a week (I suspect there will be three parts to this story in particular).

I haven’t decided on this next notion but I’ve been thinking that in keeping with the spirit of the genesis of this story I might try to play out the various encounters in true RPG combat fashion and thus let the story unfold in a way which I myself may not know; largely in relation to which characters may not survive. Although the prospect of a total party kill (TPK) might be a little tricky to spin into the tale. That’s all to be determined and I will certainly update on that aspect as it happens or doesn’t happen. For now, enjoy the first part of my serialized fantasy story entitled: An Ocean on a Hill.

Bastards by Moonlight – A Short Story

 

 

This is a short story written by myself some time ago. I don’t recall where I was or what mind state I was in when I wrote it.

You discordant motherfucker!”

“How dare you speak to me that way?”

“I’d be a fool not to dare.”

Two heathens bicker back and forth over an inscrutable substance that has of late accumulated throughout the city. What fame is there in identifying mysterious slime? Such considerations get lost in the turmoil of eating, sleeping, shitting and breathing. Rest assured, both bastards knew the discovery of the slime was important and yet mundane.

“Where did it come from?”

“That’s a logical question,” Francis declares, adjusting some newspaper stuffed under his shirt. Both men’s clothes are lined with a variety of garbage to keep warm during the deepening winter. Francis is clad in a decades old business suit, once plaid but since reduced to a singular dull brown. Rufus the tramp maintains an outfit of black overalls and a flannel coat overtop. They are each covered in dust and shitty stains.

“Lord love us Francis, I think I know what this is!”

“What! What! What is it?”

“It’s the secretion of the beast,” Rufus says this with a pronounced morbid intensity.

“Sweet fuck. I think you’re right.”

The slime, pastel green in colour, has been bubbling through every conceivable aperture in society for at least three hours but when the two men both scratch their scraggly chins in thought neither of them can think of a time before the slime. It’s 4:30am and Rufus and Francis are the only two people on the block. They had a barrel fire going in an alley but it was extinguished by a falling concretion of slime that burst out from the gutter of the building beside them. Earlier in the night they passed by the string of nightclubs where clumps of pimps and whores and imitation pimps and whores mingle outside the doors in a confused nebula of tobacco smoke and falling snow. The two noticed it then, the slime, bubbling out of the gutters and the cracked mortar of brick buildings. The slime didn’t strike them as much as the lack of reaction from the pedestrians and crowds who stood idle while the slime pooled around their feet.

“What does it mean, this secretion?” Rufus asks Francis through the snow flurries which had started up again.

“One can only ask such a question as that by first understanding the nature of the beast itself.”

“True. So what is the beast?”

“What is any beast?”

The slime has reached a level where it was impossible to take a step onto untainted ground. In response the two idiots climbed up a fire escape onto the roof of an aged and forlorn looking apartment building.

“A beast eats, it shits, breaths and fucks; that can be established a priori, for it is the nature of all beasts, from the most insignificant of microbes to the largest of leviathans,” Francis continues as he takes out and lights a cigarette.

“But this one….seems different,” Rufus says.

“Absolutely. This beast has a hole in it. This hole causes it great anxiety. You can feel it yourself cant you? The psychic emanations are strong. The only thing the beast can think to do is shove whatever crap it can get it’s hands on into this hole. More and more it piles it in like a Frenchman giving a duck the gavage treatment in preparation for foie gras. All the myriad compounds mix together and lose significance as they each turn into this ill defined ooze. Its a mass of rot like the putrid garbage water that leaks out of refuse bins.”

“But this substance has a different consistency to be sure; quite uniform, and viscous,” Rufus says as he kicks a stone from the roof down to the street below. It doesn’t make a sound as it is swallowed up by the rising green mass. “Its strangely odorless as well,” he adds.

“Yes that is an interesting characteristic. I would expect something like this to smell quite foul.”

“Perhaps the ooze isn’t so nefarious. Water is odorless and it is the giver of life.”

“Carbon monoxide is also odorless yet it will take life,” says Francis.

“That is so,” Rufus agrees. “How can such a dichotomy exist?”

“Because existence isn’t dualistic. They say their are two sides to every coin but its not the Queen’s ass on the back side of a coin, its a different thing altogether and they are both separated by the gulf of the coins edge to which each side is alienated.”

“Damn,” Rufus remarks.

“Its all poppycock and bamboozlement my friend.”

The green slime had risen above their feet now and had swallowed much of the city visible to the two tramps. The world grows quiet; the sounds of urban life becoming muffled under the all encompassing mysterious secretion. The two tramps stand in silence as the substance of mystery rises to their waists.

“Its really cold tonight,” Rufus says. “Give me a cigarette to warm up.”

 

 

 

The World Keeps Turning

Its a new year, so they say. It looks like this one is set up to one of the crazier ones. America is really looking like some kind of strange problem that is hard to ignore. Self-righteous militiamen, self-righteous presidential candidates and a stubborn unwillingness to actually deal with the issue of race in it’s society and culture. At a recent dinner party I commented that the Black Lives Matter movement basically represents a revolution of sorts. The Civil Rights movement and the gains it delivered were a very positive thing but the way in which those changes happened basically acted as a mechanism for much of the problem to be swept under the rug and ignored. Well now that rug is heavily frayed and folks are starting to have a peek underneath. The problem is quite honestly white people. Often we say that as if invoking an abstract boogeyman sort of entity and indeed that is valuable as a generalization because it serves to group together a large horde of individuals with ignorance as their modus operandi. These are the people who stubbornly believe that legislative measures during the 1960s and so on which sought to address racial based injustices solved the problem and they could continue on their merry lives filled with xenophobia and prejudice. The election of a Black president was the ultimate seal on the deal for them. How many times in the wake of Barack Obama’s taking of the oath of office did we hear that racism no longer existed, it was an phenomena of a past era. It wasn’t black people saying such things though I’m sure there were hopes for betterment on that situation. No, racism continues unabated and in some cases has become exacerbated as if the election of a Black man was and is the ultimate gesture of “we’re sorry for slavery” and thus we can forget all about the past but still treat those of darker complexions as second class citizens. Sure, lets forget about the past. Why not? Lord knows the world seems to be caught in a cycle of ceaseless bullshit because it cant get over the past. So lets focus on the present. Well the shit is real right now! If your Black (or any variety of non-white for that matter) on a University campus pretty much anywhere in North America it is not unlikely for you to be exposed to some fucked up repugnant racist shit on a daily basis. It is a strange characteristic of institutions of higher learning that they be venues for some of the lowest thinking in our societies. The belief is that the best and brightest are ascending through those halls as to create the gay and prosperous future of tomorrow, and yet these environments, depending on what the students look like, are exposing them to ridiculous amounts of mindless hate from their future colleagues or exposing them to a system which promotes marginalization and limitation of non-white individuals and thus perpetuates this status quo as the norm. The protests we are seeing on University campuses are a long coming inevitability and they are necessary just as the Black Lives Matter movement is inevitable and necessary. It is not a coincidence or accident that so many more Black men and women (and children) are killed by police in situations where if they were white they would have been dealt with in a far more humane matter. Nobody is arguing that it was okay for Rodney King to drive while high but we all should be arguing that it is nowhere near right or humane for a half dozen police officers to circle a man on the ground and beat him until near death. These protests are a revolution and it is important for the efforts to be kept up. They cannot falter or lose steam because the counter-revolution is heating up. Just as it isn’t a coincidence when a cop shoots a black suspect without provocation it is also not a coincidence that in this time we are seeing quacks like Donald Trump and the Oregon militiamen making waves. It’s been said that Fascism wherever it erupted was a symptom of a failed revolution. Whether it was Germany, Spain or Italy it was hate mongering jackbooted thugs who rose up to fight back the tide of people who sought to bring greater equality and fairness to their respective nations. They were each annihilated by fascist hooligans who then proceeded to sink the entire globe into a sea of monstrous, depraved brutality. I really don’t want to see that again. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t. I love history…but it horrifies me. And when our future starts looking like a mirror on the past I get really terrified.

That all being said, its a new year and a new winter. I’m not much of a fan of this season anymore since it tried to kill me a few years back. Ice is like murderous bandit in the night and snow is its nefarious henchman who hides the former’s evil intentions. I’ve been posting some things to my YouTube channel but took a prolonged break over the holidays. I’m not sure how I feel about it at this point. I’m not really liking the end product in all honesty. I may pull the plug on the thing, at least as far as its current content is concerned. Any feedback? Perhaps I should just stick to the writing. This year will be heavily focused on that.

Publish or die is my new motto.